Is it safe to eat food in Okinawa?

After the nuclear crisis at Fukushima, there were many questions on whether the food in Japan is safe to consume.

I guess it is a very valid concern, especially after recent reports where Japan governement had banned shipments of beef from Fukushima after it was detected that cows in fukushima were fed on crops that is apparantly exposed to radiation leak in Fukushima.

Actually the Food Safety Council in Japan does frequent updates on the situation regarding safety of food in japan.Hence you can check the frequent updates on their reports. Their website is www.fsc.go.jp Unfortunately most of the information is in japanese.

According to the report updated by them on 2nd September, there were 11 cows (contrary to the 650 cows reported in media) found to be fed on radiation contaminated hays. As such, beef from Fukushima will be banned for shipments.

At this moment, beef from the following prefectures are banned from shipments: Fukushima (banned on 19 July, some parts had the ban lifted on 25th Aug but now it is completely banned again), Miyazaki (banned on 28th July, some parts had the ban lifted on 19th Aug), Iwate (banned on 1st Augues, some parts had the ban lifted on 25th August)

According to the FSC people, radioactive casium exceeding the provisional national safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg) in meat will be banned for shipment. Hence taking the example that you ate 1kg of the meat with 500 becquerels/kg of beef, it means that one is exposed to 500×(1.6×10-5*)=0.008mSv of radiation. This is like 1/50 of the normal sun tanning effect in japan which will expose one to about 0.4mSv or 1/13 of the radiation you will be exposed on the flight from Tokyo to new york (0.1mSv).

I think it makes certain sense, so i think one should be concerned but not overly alarmed over this matter.

If you want to be very sure, you can always purchase a Radiation Detector to detect the radiation level.

As for people who is planning to visit Okinawa and have concern over the safety of the food in Okinawa, well i should say there shouldn’t be ANY concern on it as Okinawa is about 1100km far away from Fukushima. The only concern many might have is over food imported in from Fukushima. Since Okinawa is so far away from Fukushima, it is quite unlikely that the supplies are ship to Okinawa as frequently as they does for other prefectures which is nearer. Nevertheless, as the price for the fukushima (And other affected prefecture) beef are really low due to the radiation episode , one can’t rule out that some restaurants/food suppliers might use them in their meal preparation so as to cut cost.

To be on the safe side of things, i guess the best way is to consume all food whereby the ingredients is freshly out from Okinawa! Anyway if you don’t know, Okinawa is famous for its ishigaki beef, agu pork, sea grape, orion beer, awamori amdist many other things. They are all fresh from Okinawa!

These are some of the places that you can eat and drink your hearts out without worrying if the food could be contaminated by radiation (in my opinion)

1) Daiichi Makishi Kousetsu Ichiba (No 1 Makishi Public market)

okinawa makishi kousetsu market

Makishi Public Market is a place where you can get the freshest food! It is dubbed “Okinawa kitchen” where the fresh from market ingredients are whipped up into dishes according to your wishes! There is basically 2 levels for this place-the basement is where the fishes, meat, vegetables, dried food etc are sold.

How it works is this-First, you choose the ingredients you want.(like shishes which are fresh from the nearby okinawa waters). Then you go to level 2 where you get the dishes cooked for a 500 yen fee (not including the cost of the ingredients). Voila! A delicious and fresh meal is right infront of you.

okinawa makishi kousetsu market

AddressNaha City Naha Makishi 2-10-4
Telephone No81-98-867-6560
Opening Hours9am-8pm (Level 1)
10am-7pm (Level 2 canteen)
How to go:Take Yui railway to Miebashi station. Walk to international street and turn into the market next to OPA. Walk straight for about 12mins
RemarksCloses every 4th sunday of the month. Fish stall rest on the 2nd, 4th and 5th sunday of the month. Open throughout the month of December.

Read Review on Makishi Public Market

2) Amon Izakaya

amon izakaya okinawa

This is a small izakaya that is near to the kadena base. Some of the staff in the shop (including the owner) can converse in simple english so it makes things easier. One key reason why this shop is often crowded with people and highly recommended by the locals is the high quality and freshness of the ingredients used. The owner actually has really stringent requirements for the ingredients he uses such that all ingredients are freshly purchase from the market every day! With such strict adherence for quality, i doubt you will be eating contaminated beef in this shop!

Interior of shop-Romantic couple seat!

amon izakaya okinawa romantic couple seat

Delicious Fish platter

amon izakaya okinawa fresh fish platter

A note to add: This shop don’t uses added flavourings like MSG.

AddressYomitan Village Sobe1091
Telephone No81-98-956-6691
Opening Hours5.30pm-1 am. close on sunday
How to go:Take bus no 28 from Naha bus terminal Stop at yomitan bus stop.Take a taxi for a 15 mins ride to reach. If you drive from airport through Okinawa North IC it is about 1 hour and 10 mins
Emailamon-asiangate@hotmail.co.jp

3) Shozan Yakiniku

This shop serves grad A4 and above ishigaki beef. The beef is so tender and the fats melted by the heat from the stove just makes this an out of the world experience. They have certificates showing that they uses Ishigaki beef and agu pork. Makes you feel safe eating! This restaurant is located near Libre garden Hotel
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Ishigaki beef

ishigaki beef shozan

Agu Pork

agu pork shozan

AddressNaha City Omoromachi 4-17-17 Hirayama Building Shintoshin 1F2F
Telephone No81-98-860-7272
Opening Hours1200-14.30 (lunch), 17.30-2300 (dinner)
How to go:300m from omoromachi station
RemarksNo rest days (except lunch on sundays)

These are just a handful of restaurants that serves really fresh fish/meat/vegetables that i think had safe and delicious food. There are many other restaurants in okinawa that is safe to eat too! Like i said, if you want to be extra extra safe, then make sure all the food you are eating are from okinawan which you can’t get from mainland japan like”

1) Goya

2) Sea grape
icon

3) Mangoicon or other tropical fruits

4) Red sweet potato

5) orion beer!!!

6) ETC ETC

As an added prevention, maybe you might just want to check with the staff in the shop on the safety of the food. It might be rude, but maybe it can also alert the staff that people is really checking food quality. I guess there is no harm doing that.

*Using the standard of assumption of Cs134=1.9×10-5 、 Cs137=1.3×10-5 (i.e casium of 134 and 137), how they derive the formula of 1.6×10-5 is 1.9×10-5×1/2 + 1.3×10-5×1/2 = 1.6×10-5

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